Growing coneflowers from seed can be a fun and rewarding garden project, in my experience, although it can take a bit longer for them to bloom compared to planting nursery-grown plants. Just remember that some hybrid varieties may not come true from seed, meaning they might not retain all the characteristics of the parent plant. I find it best to propagate from divisions or purchase plants for specific cultivars. Here’s my step-by-step guide to growing coneflowers from seed.
Can Coneflowers Be Grown from Seed?
Coneflowers can be grown easily from seed indoors or in the ground. Coneflowers naturally self-seed once flowering finishes in the fall. This allows the seeds to remain dormant over winter until the soil warms up in the spring.
You can let your coneflowers self-seed naturally or collect the seeds manually after flowering finishes. Collecting seeds manually gives you more control over where new plants grow. Coneflowers aren’t invasive, but they can spread quite a bit if left to self-seed.
When to Sow Coneflower Seeds
Depending on your preferences and climate, you can sow coneflower seeds in fall or spring. In warmer climates without much frost, sow coneflowers directly into the soil during the fall. In colder climates, start the seeds off indoors in early spring.
Starting coneflower seeds indoors in cold climates gives the plants a head start. Sow the seeds approximately ten weeks before the last spring frost is expected. Transplant the seedlings outside once the last frost has passed and average soil temperatures reach 65ºF (18ºC).
During the fall, you can let your coneflowers self-seed or manually sow seeds directly into the ground. The seeds will stay dormant in the soil during the winter. Once spring arrives, your seeds will germinate and sprout.
How to Sow Coneflower Seeds
Here’s a quick guide explaining how to sow coneflower seeds indoors:
- Start sowing in early spring, ideally around eight to ten weeks before the last spring frost is expected.
- Sow your seeds into small pots or trays of moist seed compost. Place them in a warm spot that gets full sun.
- Cover the seeds with plastic wrap or a polythene bag until they germinate, then remove the covering.
- Keep your developing coneflowers moist for several weeks until the seedlings have grown several inches tall.
- Transplant your coneflowers outside after the last spring frost. Wait until the average soil temperature reaches 65ºF (18ºC).
The Life Cycle of Coneflowers
Coneflowers (Echinacea spp.) are perennial wildflowers that live for several years. Coneflowers rarely bloom during their first year while concentrating on growing foliage and establishing a root system.
These flowers begin blooming in their second year. Coneflowers start flowering around mid-July and continue until the first frost in October. Each plant blooms for six to eight weeks. Deadheading spent coneflowers may encourage a second round of blooms.
As perennials, coneflowers need to conserve energy during winter until they reemerge in spring. To do this, coneflowers die back to their roots once the first frost arrives. Once coneflowers finish blooming, they self-seed to allow the seeds to stay dormant during the winter.
Coneflowers are easy to grow from seed and offer beautiful changing colors and rich symbolism in the garden. Sow coneflower seeds outdoors during the fall or indoors in early spring. You can also let your coneflowers self-seed naturally after flowering finishes in the fall.
Further reading: Discover 30 beautiful types of coneflowers to grow in your garden.